Thursday, February 14, 2019

Did God really tell you that?

"Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made."  (Genesis 3: 1).

Chapter 3 of Genesis is probably the most important chapter in the Bible.  We see here a number of crucial salvation history themes: the Serpent, the Fall of Adam and Eve from grace, the Proto Evangelion, God's swift move to restore Man to favor through the Incarnation of His Son Jesus.

We know that Satan is cunning beyond compare. We know thanks to Jesus that he is the Father of lies.  But how much do we know of his implacable hatred of mankind and his insane envy of human beings? When Eve informed Satan that God forbade them to touch the tree in the middle of Eden, Satan countered by sowing doubts in the mind of Eve.

Did God really tell you that?  "God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” (Genesis 3: 5).

The woman's first serious mistake was to open up to discussion a subject that should be totally closed.  The Commandment of God. The core rule of Discernment of Spirits: Any fear, worry and doubt is Never from God.  Fight to banish it at once.

“If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” Jesus said in reply, “It is written:
‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”  (Matthew 4: 3 - 4).

We learn a lot from the combat of Jesus with Satan in the Desert.

The woman's persistence in continuing this foolish conversation handed the victory to Satan.
"The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom."  (Genesis 3: 6).

Then she succumbed.

"Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols."  (1 Samuel 15: 23).

"Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son."  (Cf Acts 16:14).

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Your wife will be a faithful friend.

"The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him."  (Genesis 2: 18).

Today we reflect on God's plan and promises to man and woman. What a wonderful and glorious aspirations God had for human beings.

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called ‘woman'."  (Genesis 2: 23).

The man was elated to have a beautiful and suitable friend and soul mate.

"Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure. Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth. Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; and those who fear the Lord will find them.”  (Sirach 6: 14 - 16).

Those who fear the Lord shall enjoy faithful partners and friends.  And more.

"Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your home,
Your children like young olive plants around your table. Just so will the man be blessed who fears the Lord."  (Psalm 128: 3 - 4).

“Let the children be fed first."  (Mark 7: 27).

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Don't touch that tree in the middle.

"The Lord God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die."  (Genesis 2: 16 - 17).

After the Lord God settled Adam in the luscious Garden of Eden, He gave Adam one simple order:  Enjoy everything you like in the Garden.  Don't touch that tree in the middle. Don't eat of its fruit.
But Adam was unable to keep this simple command.

Where does evil and disobedience come from? Let us head to today's Gospel to look for answer:

"From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile.”  Jesus teaches. (Mark 7: 21 - 23).

Still on the subject of evil and sin, Paul says:
"But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissension, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like."  (Galatians 5: 18 - 21).

There is no remedy for evil and sin except in the provisions of the second creation: You must be born again in Spirit and fire. Have you undergone this baptism?  Do you want it?

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Monday, February 11, 2019

God created man and woman equal but different.

"Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth."  (Genesis 1: 26).

What can we learn from the story of creation from Genesis to nourish our souls?

#1. Human beings are the only thing God created in His image and likeness.  This truth lays the foundation for the rest of the story of man in the Scriptures. God gave man free will and never curtailed or interfered with man's liberty.

#2. God gave humans dominion over the works of His hands.  This is an incredibly important fact. If man wants to destroy his natural environment, he is free to do so but the consequences will be dire.

#3. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." 
(Genesis 1: 27).
It is a silly falsehood to imply that God did not purposely make man and woman equal ontologically but different physiologically and psychologically. Each being attuned to its grand purpose in the logic of creation.

#4.  "God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Genesis 1: 28).

We are richly blessed by our Creator. But this is the first creation. The second creation gets better.  Man will receive the Holy Spirit living inside him.  I like the way St Augustine puts it:  "God became man so that man will become god."

Do you know the Holy Spirit?

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

World Day of Prayer for the Sick.

"Whatever villages or towns or countryside he [Jesus] entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed."  (Mark 6: 56).

This Gospel is so appropriate for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes which we celebrate today. February  11 is also the World Day of the Sick, an observation introduced by Pope St John Paul II as a way for Christians to pray for those with all types of health issues.  Lourdes in France is the premier pilgrimage shrine in the whole world for the sick.  Lourdes hosts millions of pilgrims every year from all over the world.  People seeking healing from every kind of disease and disorder.  Evidence of instant and miraculous healings in their thousands are on display: wheelchairs, crouches, canes, etc."

Let us ask Our Lady of Lourdes to intercede for the sick of the world.
Our Lady, Health of Christians, pray for us.

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Saturday, February 09, 2019

Much toiling and little result.

“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” (Luke 5: 5).

Simon and his partners toiled all night but caught nothing. These are seasoned fishermen. Where are you in your profession?  If you toil much and accomplish little or nothing, it may be time for stocktaking.

Jesus knows your Next Step. Trust Him to lead and guide you as He did to Simon Peter, James and John. If you do whatever He tells you, you will have lifelong fulfilling employment and assured of life eternal.

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Friday, February 08, 2019

May the God of Peace bless you with abundant Peace.

"May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord,  furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever [and ever]. Amen."  (Hebrews 13: 20 - 21).

Brothers and sisters, let us claim this blessing in the name of Jesus. May He Jesus, the Great Shepherd give us the grace to do always His will.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need." (Psalm 23: 1).

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Thursday, February 07, 2019

Can you trust God with your money?

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

The devil sows fears, worries and doubts in our hearts.  "If you trust God about money, you will be poor, homeless and starve," the liar whispers. The ancient monster, Father of lies, repeats every day the game plan he used against Adam and Eve in Paradise.  He urged them not to trust God implying that God is a liar.

Do you trust God when He says to you: "I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Faith is to trust completely in the promises of God.

Jesus Christ, the night before He died, gave us His Body and Blood as a sign of the New Covenant.  "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."  (Luke 22: 20).  Has Jesus been faithful to this Covenant?  Every single day for the past 2000 years, everywhere, every day all over the world He offers the Bread of life to those who believe.   Just as Jesus was faithful to the Covenant yesterday, He is faithful today.  He will be faithful tomorrow.

Rest in His faithfulness with regard to money and all your needs.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Don't be weighed down by clutter and bagages.

"He [Jesus] summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.  He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts." (Mark 6: 7 - 8).

The Gospel of today presents us a challenge to examine our lifestyle to see if clutter and bagages are hindering the penetration of the Good News and make us ineffectual disciples.  Jesus never teaches a lesson He never lived Himself.  Like the Beatitudes which is a portrait of Himself, the evangelical poverty and simplicity Jesus prescribed to His disciples is what they see every day in His life among them.

Poverty like disease and ignorance frightens many people. But the fear is altogether irrational if we consider a few salient points:

#1.  Jesus, our Leader and Captain is without doubt the best in our human race. If it is good for Him, it should be good for us.

#2.  God knows exactly what we need and when we need it.

#3.  Who owns all the gold, silver, diamond, oceans, lands, etc if not God.

#4.  God asks:  "Is anything too marvelous for me to do for you?"  (Cf Genesis 18: 14).

Jesus knows that the greatest asset of the disciple is faith and complete trust in Him.  If a disciple is armed with this, he needs nothing more. It was therefore necessary to train His disciples at the outset of their ministry in this great truth.

"Fear is useless. All that is needed is trust."  (Mark 5:  36).

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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Endure your trials as discipline.

"Endure your trials as “discipline”.  (Hebrews 12: 7).

It was one Sunday morning at the 10 am Mass that I heard the above Scripture from the Altar.  I was in the midst of the most severe desert experience of my life. I had lost everything including health.  As I listened on, I heard this:

"For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?" (v 7).  Is God saying that He is my Father?  Is my crisis therefore not divine retribution but training?  Then came the closing argument for me:

"If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards." 
(Hebrews 12: 8).

Indeed I had been without discipline for many years.  I welcomed this word of God into my heart with faith.  I went home, found the passage in my Bible and read and re-read it that blessed Sunday. What returns shall I make to the Lord for the wonderful thing He did for me on this Sunday?

"Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. For he knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust.
 
"But the kindness of the LORD is from eternity to eternity toward those who fear him.  And his justice toward children’s children among those who keep his covenant." (Psalm 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18).

God is good all the time is not an empty slogan. It is a most profound truth.

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Monday, February 04, 2019

The Feast of St Agatha, Patron Saint of Breast Cancer.

"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith."  (Hebrews 12: 1 - 2).

Today is the feast of St Agatha, Virgin and Martyr.  Agatha was martyred in the 3rd century under the persecution of Emperor Decius. Her cult was very popular from ancient times. She is the patron saint of breast cancer, sterility and rape victims amongst others.

Agatha is one of the "cloud of witnesses" urging us to run to win the Christian race that Jesus Christ our Leader set before us.  We Christians have today many challenges facing us in our Journey of Faith. But let's face it honestly. Unlike Agatha and so many other saints, "In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood." (Hebrews 12: 4).

Disregard the negative and futile messages of the world and listen to Jesus who tells us:  "Fear is useless. All that is needed is trust."  (Mark 5:  36).

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Sunday, February 03, 2019

Men and women who conquered the world through faith.

"By faith they conquered kingdoms."  (Heb 11: 33).

Who are these who conquered kingdoms and did mighty deeds by faith?  They are:  "Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel and the prophets."  (Hebrews 11: 32).

These mighty ones also through faith:  "closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders."
(Hebrews 11: 33 - 34).

Not just men did valiant deeds through faith but also women:  "Women received back their dead through resurrection.
Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection."  (Hebrews 11: 35).

Friends, through trusting in God and His promises, these men and women were able to accomplish impossible things.  Jesus spoke a great deal about the power of faith.  Again and again, He said that if we believe, we can move mountains. Nothing will be impossible for us if we have even a mustard seed size faith.

The Hebrews who were suffering severe persecution when the Letter to the Hebrews was written needed such message.  How about us? Look at the state of the world. We too need the strong medicine of Faith and Hope and Love.

"Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord." (Psalm 31: 25).

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Saturday, February 02, 2019

I appoint you my prophet to the nations.

"The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you."  (Jeremiah 1: 4 - 5).

We may call the theme of the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time the tale of two prophets: Jeremiah and Jesus. The first Reading from Jeremiah 1 is an interesting dialogue between God and Jeremiah that resulted in Jeremiah accepting his mission to be a prophet. God truly piled on the incentives.  I am moved whenever I read this 1st Chapter of Jeremiah.

"But do you gird your loins;
stand up and tell them all that I command you. Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them; for it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass, against the whole land." (Jeremiah 1: 17 - 18).

How would you react to such motivation?

"They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD."  (Jeremiah 1: 19).

From the Gospel of Luke we see the experience of the Prophet Jesus in the synagogue. The situation started with praise and admiration for Jesus and quickly turned to hostility and threat to His life.

What are we to make of the prophetic vocation?

If the Lord sends you to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives, thank Him for the honor and privilege. He will support you fully.  His faithfulness and love never fails.

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Friday, February 01, 2019

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

"Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord." (Luke 2: 22).

Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord.  Christ was presented in the Temple to the Father in the substance of human flesh: One Person, God. Two natures: God and man.
Christ had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way.

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is the manifestation of the Child Jesus to the People of Israel.  There were four representatives of the People present to witness this key event in salvation history: Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna.  Only Simeon, the Prophet spoke on this occasion.  He said that the event marks the fulfillment of the promise of God to Israel. God is faithful and fulfills every promise He makes.

The Presentation in the Temple gives us hope.  If you are waiting for God to fulfill any promises to you, you are now encouraged to believe that God will do it. He fulfilled His promises to Simeon, Mary, David and Abraham. Sacred Scripture records that God has fulfilled every single promise He has ever made.
Trust Him.

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

You need endurance to do the will of God.

"You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised."  (Hebrews 10: 36).

Our reflection today is from the first Reading, the 10th Chapter of Hebrews.  If the message is not familiar to everyone, the experience is.  You know from experience that the Journey of Faith is a constant spiritual warfare.  When you are emerging from a brutal struggle with your health, you are hit with another with your finances. And then you are challenged in a different war zone: family, job or anxieties about the future.

The Letter to the Hebrews is written to Christians like ourselves.  But we have a great advantage.  We have the solid inheritance of 2000 years of Christianity.  We have the Church, the Hierarchy, the Sacraments, the Magisterium. We have the full Canonical Scriptures. They had none of these.  But nonetheless, they were expected to be firm and steadfast in their faith. How about us? Even more so, we are expected to be unflinching even before the most desperate circumstances.  Because:
"Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."  (Luke 12: 48).

How long shall we be required to endure the trials?
We have great encouragement from Sacred Scriptures:
"For, after just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come; he shall not delay."  (Hebrews 10: 37).

Therefore my brothers and sisters,  "Do not throw away your confidence. It will have a great reward."  (Hebrews 10: 35).

Remember that the "Just one shall live by faith, and if he draws back [God] takes no pleasure in him." 
(Hebrews 10: 38).

Let us confess together in confidence:
"We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life." 
(Hebrews 10: 39).

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday.

February 1, 2019  -  First Friday in February.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 2nd  month of the year 2019, we look at Promise #2.

#2.  "I will give peace in their families."

My friends, many people like this promise because peace in the family is the foundation of health and prosperity. Moreover, if there is peace in the family, there will be peace at work and school, peace in the nation and peace on earth!

Jesus is our peace. He is the Prince of Peace.  Would you accept today His generous offer of peace in your family?

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

I will shine my little light.

"Jesus said to his disciples,
“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?"  (Mark 4: 21).

In Baptism, we receive the light of Christ.  As we participate in the Sacraments and the life of the Church, the little light we receive in Baptism grows.  Where do you place this light?  In the lampstand or in the closet?
To hide your is futile.  Like a barren fig tree, you will be found out.

"For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light."  (Mark 4: 22).

It is more exciting to share the light you have.  Imagine the people who are desperate for it here and now. But you may say: I don't know what to say.  You have the Holy Spirit. Ask Him. Do you have the desire? If not, ask the Holy Spirit.  Jesus makes two promises with regard to your engagement with His word:

#1.  "The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you." 

#2.  "To the one who has, more will be given."

And a warning:
"From the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”  (Mark 4: 24 - 25).

Friends, just shine your light and it will grow. Most people can share messages through their phones.  Why don't you share the word of God?

"A lamp to my feet is your word,
a light to my path."  (Psalm 119:105).

Jesus invites us to "approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust" to participate in the work of Evangelization. (Cf Hebrews 10: 22)
His promise is trustworthy.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

ADL will intrude and choke the word of God.

“Hear this! A sower went out to sow."  (Mark 4: 3).

Today's Gospel presents us with one of the most important and consequential parables of Jesus.  Consequential because it can be life transforming if we get the message.  The question is:  Does the life, Good News of Jesus Christ mean anything to you? Do you believe there is a life after death? Where are you on the Journey of Faith to the Next Life?

The Sower sows the seed.  "Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain." (Mark 4: 7).
The seed is the word of God. The Master Sower is Jesus Christ.  Today pastors, evangelists, missionaries and spirit-filled Christians are sowers of the seed.

Consider those seeds that fell among thorns:
"Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word,  but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit."  (Mark 4: 18 - 19).

Do you know anybody with excessive anxiety about family, health, money, job, tools and possessions, food and the future? Could that person be you?  The Lord Jesus says that ADL or Anxieties of Daily Living will "intrude and choke the word."  And you will bear no fruit. In other words, you will be barren.

"Almighty ever-living God,
direct our actions according to your good pleasure, that in the name of your beloved Son we may abound in good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever." (Collect Wednesday, 3rd Week in Ordinary Time).

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Monday, January 28, 2019

You gave me ears open to obedience.

"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but ears open to obedience you gave me."  (Psalm 40: 7).

Friends, do you have ears open to obedience? I mean obedience to the commandments of God? Obedience to His laws?  Obedience to the Church and its lawful teaching authority? Read below the blessings of such obedience:

“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  (Mark 3: 35).

Jesus made such a delightful pronouncement when He was informed that Mary and some relatives wanted to see Him while He was teaching the word of God.  Jesus loves His mother Mary and His relatives very much.  But the will of the Father was for Jesus to continue His ministry of the word of God at that time.

Was it a slight to Mary? Not at all.  Mary understands that the will of God takes precedence over everything. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1: 38).  On another occasion, Jesus said to Mary and Joseph:  “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

We Christians have been baptized and consecrated to do the will of God and abandon our futile habits of conforming to the world by choosing our own will.  When a teenager is adamant always and everywhere to prefer his will in everything, everybody knows the rest of the story. When you delight in doing God's will, you are brother and sister of Jesus and here is another promise you can claim:

"I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me.
And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God."  Psalm 40: 2).

The Lord will never forget anyone who delights in His will.

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

He is insane.

"The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”  (Mark 3: 22).

The scribes filled with envy accused Jesus of being insane. (Mark 3: 30).  Jesus used the opportunity of this drama to teach us the reality of two kingdoms in constant war with each other. Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom of God.  And He Jesus is the "mediator of a new covenant" made by His blood. (Hebrews 9: 15).

Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed Satan, the author of death and brought life to light through the Good News. (Cf 2 Timothy 1: 10).
Unfortunately brothers and sisters, many Christians live today as if this promise is something for the future.  This promise is for here and now. If you are not enjoying all the privileges, be good to yourself and ask:

What is going on?
Why am I often sad?
Where is the victorious life promised by Jesus?
Why am I not enjoying it?

Now listen to Jesus:
"No one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house."  (Mark 3: 27).

Which king reigns in your house? The strong man Satan or the Stronger Man Jesus? You must give Jesus all the keys in your home: health, family, finances, job, tools/possessions, food and your future.

You remember the song:
"When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, 
What a glory He sheds on our way! 
While we do His good will, He abides with us still, 
And with all who will trust and obey.…"

Trust, Obey and Surrender are the Only way to enjoy life in the Kingdom.  Jesus is in control.

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

They listened to the word of God from daybreak to midday.

"The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
and to proclaim liberty to captives."  (Cf. Luke 4: 18).

The 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time has a lot of juicy morsels on the word of God.  Luke informs us of "the certainty of the teachings" we receive from the word of God. (Cf Luke 1: 4). In the first Reading, we see the Assembly of the People of Israel wept as they were convicted as Ezra the priest-scribe read the word of God to them from daybreak till midday.

What does the Spirit want to communicate to us about the Bible?  Let us go to the Responsorial Psalm for today taken from Psalm 19:

"Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life."
"The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eye.

The ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just.
(PSALM 19:8, 9, 10, 15).

The Response sums up the big take away from the theme of the word of God.
"Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life."

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Friday, January 25, 2019

My son, stir into flame the gift of God.

 "I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands."  (2 Timothy 1: 6).

We celebrate today the feast of Saints Timothy and Titus.  Paul describes Timothy as someone who inherited a rich reservoir of faith from his family, notably from his mother and grandmother.  He is a man of "sincere faith." But Timothy is lacking in one necessary thing. He is too timid and too afraid to stand up to the elders.  This is a serious problem for an apostle.  Fortitude or courage is indispensable gift of the Holy Spirit for the Apostle.

Paul set out like a good novice master to correct this serious fault:
"For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control."  (2 Timothy 1: 7).

How much do you know yourself?  If Paul were to write you this letter instead of to Timothy, what would he say to you? For a clue, review the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
1. Wisdom
2.Understanding
3. Counsel
4. Fortitude
5. Knowledge
6. Piety
7. Fear of the Lord

Then ask the Father to grant you the missing ingredient.

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

 ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’  I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’ (Acts 22: 7 - 9).

The Church celebrates today the feast of St Paul the Apostle.  Paul who is also evangelist and missionary was chosen and appointed by Jesus Christ Himself to exercise a great influence in the very early Church.  His journey to Damascus in his blind zeal to persecute the followers of Jesus was rudely interrupted by the Lord.

"What shall I do, sir?’ The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do."  (Acts 22: 10).

The compassion and gentleness of Jesus in the above scene is disarming.  A conqueror helping the conquered on the ground to his feet.  Note that this is always God's merciful attitude to the sinner.

"Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’ And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him."  (Acts 22: 13).
Paul was overwhelmed by loving mercy coming to him from Jesus, Ananias and the brethren.

Now Paul is ready to receive his mandate:
"The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;  for you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard."  (Acts 22: 14 - 15).

It does not end there. Every follower of Jesus must be involved in the worldwide evangelization:

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned."  (Mark 16: 15 - 16).

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Jesus is always able and willing to save us.

"Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him." (Hebrews 7: 25).

This Scripture empowers us to approach Jesus with tremendous confidence with all our needs.  Whether the need is in the area of health, family, finances, job, tools and possessions, food and future.  Jesus Christ is able and willing always and everywhere to help us. If this is not good news, tell me is.

What is the qualification of Jesus for such an incredible claim?  From the same chapter 8 of Hebrews, our first Reading today, we read:
"We have such a high priest, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up."  (Hebrews 8: 1 - 2).

Friends, let nothing stop you from marshalling your faith and approaching Jesus to get the help you need.  When you come to Jesus for help, remember this:  Surrender when He answers you and how He resolves your problem. Be assured that you will get the very best.

Today is the the feast of a most gentle and most beloved Bishop and Doctor of the Church - St Francis de Sales. He is the patron saint of writers and journalists and everyone in social communications.
St Francis de Sales pray for us.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

You are a priest forever.

“You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.”  (Hebrews 7: 17).

Our first Reading from Hebrews celebrates the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  Some writers see Melchizedek as the pre-incarnation of Jesus. Scripture calls Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He is "without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever."  (Hebrews 7: 3).

Jesus Christ, our eternal High Priest offered Himself once and for all on the Cross for our salvation. (Cf Hebrews 7: 27, 4: 14 - 15). He continues His ministry as Priest in Heaven through intercession.  How about on earth?  The Church has the priesthood of the Faithful where every baptized member belongs.  The Holy Spirit endows us with many gifts for the building up of the Kingdom of God in the world.

The Church has also the ministerial or ordained priesthood who is charged to celebrate the Sacraments in the person of Christ.

Thank You Jesus our Eternal High Priest for endowing Your Church with great gifts.

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Finding God in all things.

"Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work."  (John 4: 34)

"All that happens to me therefore will be food for my nourishment, water for my cleansing, fire for my purification, and a channel of grace for all my needs.  That which I might endeavor to find in other ways seeks me incessantly and gives itself to me through all creatures."  (John Pierre de Caussade, SJ)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.

 “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath.”  (Mark 2: 27 - 28).

What is God's intention for the Sabbath?

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work."  (Exodus 20: 8 - 10).

The Sabbath is a day of Rest.
"With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. "The Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath."  (CCC 2173).

The Catechism continues:
"God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant. The sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel."  (CCC 2171).

The Sabbath Rest is Rehearsal for Eternal Rest. "Great are the works of the LORD, exquisite in all their delights.
The Lord will remember his covenant for ever."  (Cf Psalm 111).

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Everyone serves good wine first.

“They have no wine.”  (John 2: 3).
Mary told Jesus at the wedding party at Cana.  This is the first miracle of Jesus. What a story it tells about Jesus and His ways.  Some people choose to believe that Christianity is a kill joy religion. No fun whatsoever.  Only fasting, armsgiving and praying.  This first miracle at Cana demolishes this.  If Jesus did not perform the miracle, shortage of wine would not invalidate the marriage. Jesus performed the miracle to show His pleasure in the celebration of marriage.

"Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”  (John 2: 10).

There is a word of encouragement for us here.  God in His most powerful Providence reserves the best for us to the last. Don't give up.

Another truth we can take away from the Miracle at Cana is this:
‘Tis not from chance our comfort springs, Thou art our trust, O King of kings."  (Lauds - Liturgy of the Hours).

Not even a single comfort you enjoy in life come from chance or accident.  Every single comfort you enjoy comes from the God of all consolation and comforts. (2 Corinthians 1: 3).
This is an incredibly powerful promise.  Will you share this good news?

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Approach Jesus with confidence.

"Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help."  (Hebrews 4: 16).

My friends, this is the beautiful invitation from today's first Reading. Consider for a moment the vehicle or medium of this invitation:
"The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword."  (Hebrews 4: 12).  Do you realize that another name for Jesus is the "word of God?"

We know who invites us to step forward boldly and receive grace and mercy whenever we need it.  But why should anyone hesitate to come to Jesus, the friend of sinners? Three reasons jump to me immediately:

#1.  Lack of faith.
#2.  Too busy for Jesus.
#3.   Our sins.

Does any of the above pass the Lie test? The answer is No.  If Jesus Himself invites us to to receive grace and mercy, why should He hesitate to deal with our lack of faith. Friends, open your mouth and ask.  Too busy for Jesus sounds like the teenager who goes off to college.  "Junior, why don't you write mom and dad?"  "Oh, I am too busy."  The Lord in His sense of humor might allow parents to experience such neglect in order to see how they treat Him.

Jesus is the friend of sinners. In the Gospel of today, Jesus dines with Matthew also known as Levi and his friends. All of them without exception sinners. At the objection of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said:  “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”  (Mark 2: 17).

Will you be an evangelist and bring this glad tidings to your family and friends?

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jesus saw their faith.

"Jesus saw their faith."  (Mark 2: 5).

Jesus while preaching the word in a packed room in his hometown, had a paralytic man lowered from the roof of the house by four friends and dropped to His feet.  Scripture records that Jesus saw the faith of the four friends of the paralytic.  What exactly did Jesus see?  He saw the four men did the one thing necessary.  The men knew and believed the healing powers of Jesus.  "If only we could get our paralytic friend before Jesus, he would be healed." Must have been their thinking.
Faith is a bold action based on a credible assumption.  The  woman with the issue of blood searched for Jesus until she found Him. Then she sneaked behind him and touched the hem of His cloak.  She got an instant healing.  (Matthew 9: 20 - 22).

Faith is absolute confidence in the word of God, in the promise of God.  Do you have a faith that can be seen? How do you get such faith?
By prayer and daily feeding of the word of God.

For many days now, the Church has repeated the same prayer in the Collect in the daily Mass:

"Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care,
O Lord, we pray, that they may see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen."  (Collect).

Give us the grace to see what we must do.  Give us the strength to do what You show us.  This is how faith that is seen is produced.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Encourage one another to persevere in the Christian walk.

"Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God." (Hebrews 3: 12).

An evil and unfaithful heart is one that conveniently forgets all that God has done for him. He is not constant in prayer nor steadfast with acts of devotion.

The word of God wants us to be our brother's keeper.  "Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin."  (Hebrews 3: 13). The lure and the lust of sin are everywhere. This is why the ministry of encouragement is sorely needed in the Church today.

Never forget that without perseverance and constancy we cannot make it to the Kingdom of God. "We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end."  (Hebrews 3: 14).

Brothers and sisters, encourage one another with prayers and the word of God.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to avoid fear of death.

Jesus came to "free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."  (Hebrews 2: 15).

My friends, are you terrified of dying? Of being suddenly snuffed out of existence and disappearing forever?  The word we share today is your Good News.

It is God's plan that Jesus Christ be like us in everything but sin;  that He suffers and dies so that "he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil."  Jesus broke the power of death by rising from the dead on the third day.  He shows that we too must die but shall rise again.  Dying and rising is what we sacramentally experience when we are baptized.  We die when we are immersed into water. We rise from death when we are raised up again.

As a result of the power of this Sacrament, our faith and the word of God, every Christian should have no fear of death.

It is not only the fear of death that the devil causes us. He makes us to have unhealthy fears of poverty, ill health, etc. To overcome these fears, we have to die to money and worship of good health.
Remember Jesus in His Temptation in the Desert?  He looked the devil in the eye and told him: "Man does not live on bread alone." (Matthew 4: 4). Man does not live on money alone. Man does not live on good health alone.
If you are able to do this, you will experience peace and freedom.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Jesus is still teaching with authority.

“What is this? A new teaching with authority."  (Mark 1: 27).

The people of Nazareth noticed something peculiar about Jesus the first time He walked into the synagogue.  But after reading and interpreting Isaiah's prophecy on the Messiah, Scripture records that their eyes were transfixed on Him.

On another Sabbath, Jesus "entered the synagogue and taught.  The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes."  (Mark 1: 21 - 22).

Jesus taught with the authority of Moses and all the prophets combined plus something different: "A new teaching with authority."  (Mark 1: 27).

After His Resurrection, He breathed on His Apostles and imparted them the Holy Spirit. Then before He ascended into Heaven, He gave them the authority to go to all the world and teach and evangelize all people.  This authority has been exercised by the Sacred Magisterium of the Church from the very beginning to today.

The Church exists to evangelize. Are you part of this effort?

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Will you follow me and become a fisher of men?

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Mark 1: 17).

These are the words of Jesus the Fisher of men to new recruits Simon and Andrew.  What I love most about this incident is this:
"Then they abandoned their nets and followed him."  (Mark 1: 18).  Do you notice the immediacy of the response? God loves the cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9: 7).  Social psychologists teach that spontaneity and immediacy of response point to a good finish.  Remember a young Virgin called Mary? "Yes I will. Let it be done to me according to your words."  She too left everything and embraced her mission.

Jesus is still passing by. He is still calling. He has tremendous good news to share. For example:

"I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10).

Will you too be a fisher of men?

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

The world is in dire need of revival.

"John said: One mightier than I is coming; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."  (Luke 3: 16).

Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It marks the end of the Christmas Season.

Jesus will baptize us with Holy Spirit and fire. What an amazing promise.  Are you ready?  “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!"  (Luke 12: 49).

The Journey to the Promised Land was not a straight road. There were many bends, curves and detours. So is our personal Journey of Faith. From the arrival in the Promised Land to the Coming of Jesus Christ more bends, curves and detours for the chosen people.  From Pentecost to the Second Vatican Council, more curves, detours and bends for Christians. The Genealogy of Jesus Christ teaches us that God's loving and all powerful Providence anticipates all these.  He built in correctives and resets into the march of the world to Kingdom of God.

Friends, to make a long story short, the world is in dire need of reset. Yes. Of Revival. The Holy Spirit is the Principal Agent for this great Revival.  Are you ready to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire?

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Can you let Jesus increase a little bit in you?

"He [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease.”  (John 3: 30).

John the Baptist at the end of his ministry says Jesus's elevation has made his joy complete. (John 3: 29).
With this parting gift of heavenly wisdom, he left a great legacy for the Church.
Yes, Jesus must increase. We must decrease.

But how?

"I let go of my desire for security." 
"I let go of my desire for affection ."
"I let go of my desire for control ."
"I let go of my desire to change the situation ."
"I let go of my desire for perfect health ."
"I let go of my desire for perfect family harmony ."
"I let go of my desire for the perfect job."

I let go and let Jesus use me as He wishes.

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Jesus can not resist trust in Jesus!

‘Sir,’ he [man full of leprosy] said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ (Luke 5:  12 ).

And the leprosy left him at once.

Dear friends, what is the one thing that melts the Heart of Jesus? Simple and full trust in Jesus.! That's it.  Serving in soup kitchens is great. Flying about in all parish ministries is good work.  But if you have not figured out how to increase your trust in Jesus, you are a non starter and may be missing a lot in this side of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus caused this words to be written in His Divine Mercy picture:
JESUS I TRUST IN YOU.
Jesus can never resist trust in Jesus.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

There is no fear in love.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear." (1 John 4: 18).

We are talking here not of our love for God. For example: "Thou shall the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy mind and all thy will."  We are talking about God's love for us that never changes, never fails. This is such a radical concept that if you can become aware of how much God loves you, the knowledge and trust in God’s love for you will transform your life beyond widest expectation.

How do you become aware of how much God loves you? How do you become aware of how much your wife, father, friend loves you?  You match up the person's behavior towards you with your concept of love. For example:

This is how God loves you and me:
God is patient; God is kind. God is not jealous, nor is He pompous, or inflated.  He is never rude nor seeks His own interests. He is never quick-tempered nor broods over our sins.  He does not rejoice over our wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth and our success.  He is longsuffering and merciful to the extreme. (Adapted from 1 Corinthians 13 : 4 - 7).

To own this truth, you repeat the above every day until it becomes yours. The result is unbelievable. You come to believe that God loves you and is with you every single moment everywhere. And you know that this God is in control of every situation.

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Monday, January 07, 2019

If God is love, who are we?

"God is love."  (1 John 4: 8).

My friends, what does it mean to say that God is love? It is like saying "The sun is shining. There is light."  Of course there will be light if the sun is shining.  God's love suffuses everything. It penetrates all His creation. Genesis teaches us that after God created the world, He reviewed the work of His hand and sees that it is good and He loves it.

Original Sin damaged our ability to love and receive love.
We needed a re-education in other to understand love from God's perspective. This is how God loves you and me:

God is patient; God is kind. God is not jealous, nor is He pompous, or inflated.  He is never rude nor seeks His own interests. He is never quick-tempered nor broods over our sins.  He does not rejoice over our wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth and our success.  He is longsuffering and merciful to the extreme. (Adapted from 1 Corinthians 13 : 4 - 7).

"In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins." (1 John 4: 10).

Without the Spirit of Love living and working in us, we may never be able to overcome the effects of Original Sin working against love.

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

What happens when we abide in the will of God.

"Beloved, We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him."  (1 John 3: 22).

Friends, Scripture promises that when we keep God's commandments and do what pleases Him, we receive from Him what we need.  It is not the will of God to deprive us of the necessities of life.  Man does not live on bread alone.  Neither does he live on money alone. Man needs good health, family peace and prosperity. Man needs good job and tools and possessions. We need food all the time.  Who can live without peace of mind and soul? Finally, we are constantly preoccupied with thoughts of the future as we move from one lifecycle to another.

Today's message from 1 John should bring us great comfort.
"Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us."  (1 John 3: 24).
Friends, do you know for certain that the Holy Spirit remains in you?  Without the Holy Spirit, you cannot live effectively the Christian life and you cannot enjoy the privileges promised the children of God.

"You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, [the world] for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."  (1 John 4: 4).

We are engaged in a life and death struggle with the spirit of this world.  Are you gaining victory war zone by war zone: family, finances, job, health, etc. Are you winning sector by sector: workplace, home, church, etc.

"We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us,
 while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit."  (1 John 4: 6).

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Saturday, January 05, 2019

The Magi saw and believed.

"We [The Magi] saw the star at its rising and have come to do him homage."  (Matthew 2: 2).

Today is the Solemnity of the the Epiphany.  The star called forth the three Wise Men from the East to follow the star and they found and recognized the infant Jesus as Son of God and King of the Universe.  Every day, the star of freedom beckons men and women from everywhere to America, God's own country to their idea of paradise.

Where is your star pointing to?  Is it pointing to the Child Jesus born in poverty in a stable? Or is it pointing to “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” (Revelation 17: 5).

"They [Magi] were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother." 
(Matthew 2: 10 - 11).

Consider this for a moment: These 3 kings and scientists were able to recognize the Infant Jesus in such an unlikely environment.  How could this be when 2000 years after His birth, not everyone on earth has bent the knee at the Name of Jesus?

You that acknowledge Jesus as Lord and King, follow the example of the Magi:
"They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2: 11).

"Lord, every nation on earth will adore you."  (Cf Psalm 72).

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Friday, January 04, 2019

The Lord is my allotted portion and my cup.

"O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.  For me the measuring lines have fallen on pleasant sites; fair to me indeed is my inheritance."  (Psalm 16 :5 - 6: Entrance Antiphon).

There are Scriptures that affirm who you are.  They bring you comfort and encouragement  when you need it most.  I delight to rest in Psalm 16 and savor the sweet sentiment that this Psalm exudes. If the Lord Himself is your allotted portion and cup, it means that you have the best part.  You may not feel that you have the privileged part, but your feelings do not matter at all.

Faith is complete confidence in the word of God, in His promises.  To live by faith is to live by the promises of God and not by the evidence of your senses or feelings.  I am trying to put this teaching into practice daily.  How do I do this? Not by reading books on faith and praxis. But rather, I include in my morning prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to live this day as I believe and as I pray.

I believe in prayer.
I believe in the word of God.
I believe in miracle.
I leave the rest to God.

It is said that prayer is the efficient cause of every comfort in life.  St Augustine puts it this way:
"If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, then all is well."

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Thursday, January 03, 2019

The price of our freedom is huge.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  (John 1: 29).

It is impossible to understand Sin until you sit still and contemplate a life-size Crucifix.  A crucifix is a cross with a corpus (body).  I have often wondered why the Blessed Virgin Mary urges mystics and those who desire to advance in spiritual life to look at the crucifix often. The cross is the means and instrument of our redemption. The sacrifice of a human being who is equally God is how the price of our salvation is paid.

"The Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil."  (1 John 3: 8).

What are the works of the devil?

"Now the works of the flesh [devil] are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like."  (Galatians 5: 19 - 21).

These are works/sins that keep us enslaved, depressed, miserable, unfulfilled.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  (John 1: 29).

"We have found the Messiah."
(John 1: 41).  Have you?

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus..

January 4, 2019  -  First Friday in January.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 1st  month of the year 2019, we look at Promise #1.

#1.  "I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life."
 
What is your state of life?
A.  Married
B.  Single
C.  Divorced
D.   Adolescent

Each state has its strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Jesus promises us here more than sufficient grace to cope with whatever happens.  There can be only one response to this magnanimous offer of Jesus:  Yes and Thank You Jesus!

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

"At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  (Philippians 2: 10-11).

Today is the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.  Jesus is the name given to our Redeemer before He was born. The name Jeshua in Hebrew means God Saves!  It is a name that is so appropriate for Jesus because He saves everyone who puts his faith in Him.

From the dawn of Christianity, Christians have discovered the mysterious power in the name of Jesus.  They have invoked this name out of love and for protection.  I recently laughed aloud when I was reading a book of Pope Francis and he asked his audience how many times a day they mention the name of Jesus.  When my alarm rings in the morning, the first sound I make is the name of Jesus. And throughout the day over a hundred times.  If you say the Rosary every day, you mention the name of Jesus at least 60 times.

One other thing I would like to say about the name of Jesus is that it is a full prayer. Have you heard about the Jesus Prayer? Packed into that one word is love, joy, adoration, petition, protection and power.

"The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.
To all who received him he gave power to become children of God."  (John 1:14,12).

It is said that the name of Jesus is the sweetest sound in every language.

Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Who are you?

“Who are you?”..... “What are you then?.... What do you have to say for yourself?” (John 1: 19, 21, 22).

The priests, levites and Jewish leaders have been watching the ministry of St John the Baptist for a while. At long last, they decided to hear from the horse's mouth the identity of this austere prophet.  John did not beat about the bush:  “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord.”  (John 1: 23).

And you? Who are you? What is your purpose on earth? What do you do for the Church of God?  All these are apt questions to reflect on as we prepare to celebrate the feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ on January 13th marking the end of the Christmas Season.

We celebrate today, January 2nd, two great Bishops and Doctors of the Church: Saints Basil the Great (329 to 379)and Gregory Nazianzen (329 to 389).  Both men, great friends in this world "proclaimed Christ crucified; Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God." (Cf 1 Corinthians 1: 23 - 24).

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Monday, December 31, 2018

When the fullness of time...

"When the fullness of time had come..... The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger."  (Galatians 4: 4, Luke 2: 16).

Today is January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.  God our Father in His mercy begins all good things and brings them to fulfillment. He is pleased to grant us new beginnings in this Year of grace.

"The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!"  in 2019. (Numbers 6: 24 - 26).

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever."  (Hebrews 13: 8).

May God bless us all in 2019 in his mercy.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

How to be a new person in 2019.

"Children, it is the last hour.........we know this is the last hour."  (1 John 2: 18).

Today indeed is Monday, December 31, 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas.  The beloved Apostle and Evangelist screams in the first Reading: LAST HOUR!

What shall we do? First review 2018 and note carefully the blessings and mercies of God. Then give thanks.
This is the hour that many people fine-tune the New Year Resolution.  I will share with you frankly a very simple and easy to keep resolution that can transform your life and bring you much peace and joy.

#1.  Pray always.
#2.  Pray about everything.
#3.  Pray everywhere.
(Cf Philippians 4: 6 - 7).

The most powerful prayer is just one word: Jesus.

St Augustine teaches:  "If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, all is well."

If you start with prayer, your day will be blessed.  A body in motion continues in motion. (1st law of motion).

"The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
To those who accepted him
he gave power to become the children of God."  Jn 1:14, 12).

Be a new creation in 2019!
"Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come."  (2 Corinthians 5: 17).

SeekFirst Community wishes you and your family a 2019 full of faith, peace, patience, kindness and good health and prosperity.
Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Imitating the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

"The shepherds went in haste,
and found Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in a manger."  (Luke 2: 16).

Today is the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

We celebrate the shining example of family peace, love and harmony the last Sunday of the year.  Why do we celebrate this feast? So that we may imitate and practice the virtues of family life so richly portrayed in this family.  We may be sure that this family observes the first rule of family togetherness and charity: "A family that prays together stays together."  Now that you have been reminded of this heavenly wisdom, blessed are you if you do it.

"God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them."  (Sirach 3: 2).

Blessed is the one who teaches his children this golden rule.

"Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." 
(Colossians 3: 15, 16).

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Good has fulfilled His big Promise.

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled."  (Luke 2: 29).

Who spoke this famous words which the Church uses in its nightly prayer?  His name is Simeon and his profile by Luke the Evangelist is below:

"Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God."  (Luke 2: 25 - 28).

Simeon is an old prophet who is righteous, devout and had waited for the coming of Christ with unflinching constancy. No wonder he was a good friend of the Holy Spirit who is mentioned 3 times in the short passage above.  Simeon is famous for his accurate prediction of the role of Mary in salvation history:

“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  (Luke 2: 34 - 35).

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple brings together in one holy place important Bible characters: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Simeon and Anna.
God fulfills His word in His own way and His own time.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Who are the Holy Innocents?

“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”  (Matthew 2: 13).

December 28th is the Feast of the Holy Innocents.  These are about 20 babies whom Herod slaughtered in an effort to kill the the Infant Jesus.

"The innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ; spotless, they follow the Lamb, and sing for ever: Glory to you, O Lord."  (Entrance Antiphon).

"[Herod] ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under." (Matthew 2: 16).

Consider this: Even after the heinous infanticide of Herod, God is prepared to forgive him completely if he acknowledged his sin and asked for mercy.
"If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing."  (1 John 1: 9).

No sin is too great to be unpardonable.
"But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world." (1 John 2: 1 - 2).

"We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the white-robed army of martyrs praise you."  (Cf Te Deum).

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.

"This is John, who reclined on the Lord’s breast at supper,
the blessed Apostle, to whom celestial secrets were revealed
and who spread the words of life through all the world."  (Entrance Antiphon).

Today is the feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist. John penned the 4th Gospel, 3 New Testament letters and the Book of Revelation.

John gives us the eye-witness account of the majestic mystery that is Jesus Christ, the Word of life:

"What was from the beginning,
what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life." (1 John 1: 1).

He waxes stronger: 
"What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." (1 John 1: 3).

Christmas is a good time to commit fully to Jesus Christ so that your fellowship with us will be complete.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Feast of St Stephen, the first martyr.

"You will be hated by all because of my name." 
(Matthew 10: 22).

December 26th, a day after Christmas is the feast of St Stephen, the 1st martyr of the Christian Era.

We still have 3 full weeks of the Christmas season. A season of festivities, rich food and choice wines, music and merry making.  Why spoil the fun with a gory story of bloody and cruel killing?  Is it because birth and death are opposite sides of the same coin?  Listen to the Book of Ecclesiastes:
"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die."  (Ecclesiastes 3: 1 - 2).

Jesus Christ promised His followers that "You will be hated by all because of my name."   (Matthew 10: 22).

Stephen was the first disciple to bear witness. The word witness in Greek means martyr.
Who is Stephen?  His profile is Christ-like:
"Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people."  (Acts 6: 8).

He [Stephen], filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  (Acts 7: 55).

What can we learn from the life of St Stephen?
#1.  There is a price to pay in honest and genuine Christian life.
#2.  Nobody can live this life without the help of the promised Paraclete (Helper).
#3.  Jesus Christ is the "true and faithful witness."  He leads by word and example.  He fulfills every promise He makes.

So do not be afraid....
"When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say."  (Matthew 10: 19).

Jesus Christ will be the rock of refuge, a stronghold to save you.  He will always be your rock and fortress.  Trust in His holy and powerful name. (Cf Psalm 31: 3 - 4).

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Happy Birthday Jesus!

  “Your God is King!”  (Isaiah 52: 7).

Happy Birthday O Emmanuel! We celebrate today the wondrous mystery of Your Incarnation, God born Man in the tiny village of Bethlehem. You did not disdain to be born of Your Virgin Mother.  You became God-with-us, God-in-us and God-for-us.

My friends, today is the day we have been waiting for.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news,
Announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation." (Isaiah 52: 7).

Now, let us celebrate!
"With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout with joy to the King, the Lord." (Psalm 98: 6).

SeekFirst Community wishes you and your family and friends a very joyful and holy Christmas.  We pray you will receive Jesus, the Child God who is our King with great joy.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

God will fulfill every promise He makes.

"Behold, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son into the world."
(Cf. Galatians 4: 4).

The Church exalts in the truth of God's faithfulness in the proclaimed word today:
"Behold, everything is fulfilled which the angel promised to the Virgin Mary."  (Antiphon to the Benedictus on the 4th Sunday of Advent).

The 2nd Reading today lists some of the promises of God to King David (2 Samuel 9 - 16).  Behold everything is fulfilled which God promised to David:

"And I will make your name like that of the greatest on earth......
I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you.  Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever."  (2 Samuel 9 - 16).

My friends, behold everything will be fulfilled which God promises you.  Let us chant our Yes and Amen and gratitude with the Psalm below:

"The favors of the LORD I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. For you have said, “My kindness is established forever;” in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness."  (Psalm 89: 2 - 3).

This too God has fulfilled.
"Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant."  (Luke 1:  70 - 72).

"O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal ligt, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death."

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Peace our Lord is coming soon.

"He [Jesus] is peace."  (Micah 5: 4).

We are two days away from the solemn festival of Christmas?  Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves:  Do we really know who we have been preparing to receive?

The Prophet Micah calls Jesus "Peace" in the first Reading. Jesus is not just the Prince of Peace but Peace incarnate.

Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit calls Jesus "my Lord."  Jesus is Lord means literally that Jesus is God.  The Angel Gabriel said to Mary:  "“The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."  (Luke 1: 35).

The Lord be with you.
Peace be with you.
The Lord is Peace Himself.

The Child we are expecting in two days will "be ruler in Israel."
He is the King of the Universe and His origin is "from ancient times."  (Micah 1: 1).

"God and Father, you looked in pity on fallen man and redeemed us by the coming of your Son. Grant that we who profess our firm and humble faith in the incarnation of our Redeemer may have some share in his divine life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Nothing is sweeter than the joy of answered prayer.

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request."
(1 Samuel 1: 27).

Friends, let me share with you frankly. There is nothing as sweet in religion as the joy of answered prayer.  If you have experienced it, you know what I mean. If not, ask yourself why.  Among my favorite Bible characters, Hannah, the mother of the Prophet Samuel stands close to the front of the line. She is a woman of great faith and power, generosity and humility.  The Evangelist Luke must have been inspired by her personality in crafting the profile of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is not an accident that the two most powerful women in salvation history are featured in today's Mass Readings just 3 days to the Solemnity of Christmas.

Speaking of the radical generosity of Hannah and Mary, read the word below and consider how many women you know who could make such offer to God.  Give away their only son?
"Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.” 
(1 Samuel 1: 28).

Mary and Hannah are spiritual warriors and winners.  Let us savor the Responsorial Psalm of today's Liturgy taken from the Song of Hannah and be blessed by the word of God.

"My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior."

“My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory.”

“The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength. The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes.”

“The LORD puts to death and gives life; he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich, he humbles, he also exalts.”

“He raises the needy from the dust; from the dung heap he lifts up the poor, to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.”
(1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8).

"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!"

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